Sunday, May 28, 2006

Matt's Messages - The God of Hosea

“The God of Hosea”
May 28, 2006
Hosea 1:1-2:1

I invite you to turn in your Bibles with me to the Prophecy of Hosea. The Prophecy of Hosea. The Book of Hosea is in your Old Testament, to the right of the Psalms, just after the Book of Daniel. Hosea is the first of what are often called the Minor Prophets–not because they are “minor” books, but because they are shorter than the Major Prophets. Hosea is only 14 chapters long compared to something like Isaiah which is 66 chapters long. Hosea is the first of the Minor Prophets also called the Twelve Prophets. You can find Hosea starting on Pew Bible page #889. Pew Bible 889, Hosea chapter 1. Get out a bookmark and put it here; we’re going to be in Hosea most of the Summer.

Hosea is an amazing little book tucked into the back of your Old Testament. The first three chapters tell the story of a very unhappy prophetic family. Then the rest of the book more fully explains what their shocking story means.

Today, in chapter 1, we’re going to be introduced to the main characters in the book of Hosea.

Who do you think is the Main Character of the book of Hosea?

You might guess Hosea since the book is named after him.

If you knew about his family, you might guess one of his oddly named children, of whom we are about to learn. Or you might have guessed his difficult wife, Gomer.

But I’ve asked that question enough times for you to get it right in a pop quiz.

The answer is God. God is the main character of the book of Hosea.

And in chapter 1, we are introduced to the major themes of the book as they reveal the character of the person of God–“The God of Hosea.”

And the God of Hosea is the God whom we Christians worship today.

Hosea begins with a word of historical context. Chapter 1, verse 1.

“The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:”

Hosea was God’s prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. You remember that after King Solomon died, the nation was divided into two. The southern kingdom called “Judah” was a little more godly than the northern kingdom called “Israel.” Four kings from Judah are mentioned in verse 1 whose reigns spanned from 792 to 686 BC. One northern king is mentioned, Jeroboam II (the second king by that name) who reigned from 793-753 BC. Some of these kings overlapped.

Hosea prophesied during the 8th century BC mostly to the northern, more wicked kingdom.

The “Jeroboam II Years” were very prosperous for Israel, but the leaders and the people had strayed from God. And Hosea had a message of judgment for them to hear...and to see. V.2

“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.’”

This is the key verse to understanding the book of Hosea.

God here did something almost unthinkable.

He ordered His prophet to act out a prophetic object lesson.

Now, that’s not that strange by itself. God does that in other parts of the Bible. God has His prophets do some pretty crazy stuff to send a clear message.

But this one takes the cake!

God tells His prophet, Hosea, to marry an adulterous woman. A harlot. A prostitute, a whore, a sexually promiscuous woman.

The King James Version makes the scandal of this verse very clear. It translates verse 2: “And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.”

And it means just what it says.

Hosea’s public ministry began with God telling him to get a wife that he knows in advance is going to be unfaithful to him.

We don’t know if she was already a promiscuous woman or if God was just revealing to Hosea that she would be. But she would be!

And here’s why. V.2

“...because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”

The “land” here is the people of Israel who were living in the LAND that God had promised them back in Genesis chapter 12.

And though they still claimed to be the people of God, they had in actual fact departed, left, forsaken the LORD.

The people in the northern kingdom had become ensnared by idols. They had begun to also worship the “Baals”–local deities that were thought of as “lords” or “Baals” of each locale.

Israel had broken her covenant fidelity to the LORD, and He calls it “spiritual adultery.”

The LORD says that Israel has been “in bed” with other gods.

And he’s mad about it! Rightfully so.


Now, you might think that jealousy is a bad thing. And it sometimes is, when we are jealous or extremely desirous of something that is not rightfully ours.

But jealousy is a good thing when it is an extreme desire for what rightfully belongs to us.

And the greatest human example of this is the jealousy a husband rightfully has for the affections of his wife.

That’s one of the reasons why God chose this shocking object lesson to communicate this spiritual truth.

Because God is rightfully jealous of the affections of His people.

He said so back in Exodus chapter 20 when He gave the 10 Commandments. The second commandment says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.”

He cannot stand unfaithfulness.

He wants the full affections, the full love of His covenant people.

That is the basic underlying message of the book of Hosea and its spiritual truth has not changed today.

God is jealous for the hearts of His people.

It says so in the New Testament, as well. James chapter 4. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. [What’s James say about that?] You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (Vv.1-5) New American Standard: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us."

God is jealous. He wants all of you. He wants to be first and foremost in your heart.


Which is another way of saying “Worship God alone.”

What has, this week, hijacked your heart?

What other thing has taken God’s place? That’s an idol.

And God won’t have any rivals for your heart.

We’re going to come back to that again and again this Summer. I believe that God wants to root out some idols in our hearts this Summer that maybe have been ruling there for some time.

We are called to reject them. Because the God of Hosea is jealous.

Israel had committed spiritual adultery and so God sent Hosea into a sexually adulterous marriage to picture for Israel what their sin was really like–the breaking of a sacred covenant.

All through the Bible God uses marriage as a picture of His relationship with His people. It’s actually one of the chief reasons why He created marriage in the first place (Eph 5:31-32).

Well, here is pictures what happens when our relationship with God goes wrong.

When what should be our first love gets taken advantage of.

God has to bring discipline. And He has to bring judgment.


The God of Hosea is holy. And He cannot let Israel’s infidelity go unpunished.

And He won’t. This shocking object lesson is intended to demonstrate both the jealousy and the justice of God. And the justice comes out in the names of the children. In verse 3 Hosea obeys.

“So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”

“Then the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel.’”

Now, Hosea has to name the three children in his home strange names. The first is a boy that they call “Jezreel.”

It’s like naming your son “Auschwitz.”

This is my son, “Auschwitz.”

That’s a real conversation starter!

Jeroboam II was a descendent of Jehu who had massacred both the king of the north and the king of the south and a whole bunch of other people to get his murderous hands on the throne. You can read about it in 2 Kings 9 and 10.

And because of Jehu’s sins and how Israel had never repudiated them, Israel was going to fall. V.4 again.

“‘Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel.’”

This happened in 752 BC when the house of Jehu fell and in 724 BC when Assyria, the major world power of the day, destroyed the military might of Israel on the plains of Jezreel and two years later there no longer was a northern kingdom.

It’s like naming your son, “Coming Judgment.” God is just.

But it got worse. Next child, a daughter. Verse 6

“Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. [Notice that it doesn’t say that this daughter is Hosea’s. We don’t know. It’s possible that she doesn’t belong to him.] Then the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them–not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God.’”

Lo-Ruhamah means “Not Loved” or “Not Pitied” or “No Compassion For Her.”

How sad to have to name your daughter “Unloved.”

What kind of life would she live with that kind of a name?

God has chosen to do this to warn the people of Israel that their playing around with other gods cannot and will not be tolerated any longer.

Up till now, they have been shown mercy, but they have done nothing but take advantage of it. And Gomer’s daughter is a billboard that screams “The mercy is about to end!”

God is just!

And just to make it clear, God will show compassion to the less wicked nation to the South. They, too, will not survive forever, but they will get compassion. They will be shown more covenant mercy.

Assyria will not conquer them. V.7 “I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them–not by bow, sword, or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God.”

Do you know how God fulfilled this prophecy? Read 2 Kings 19 or Isaiah 37. In the middle of the night, God wiped out 185,000 Assyrian soldiers all by Himself.

But He didn’t spare Israel. The time for being merciful had run out.

God is just. And it got even worse. Third child, verse 8.

“After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. [In other words, time has passed and nothing has changed. The girl is at least 2 years old, maybe 3 and Israel has not repented. So God goes to the furthest stretch. V.9] Then the LORD said, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
This son might not be Hosea’s biological son, either.

And it would really sting for him to have the name, “Not My People.” “Doesn’t Belong to Me.”

This signals that the covenant has been broken.

The most basic truth of the covenant was that they were God’s people and God was their God.

But God says, “No. It’s over. We’re as good as divorced.”

This is what the Law referred to as the covenant curses. You know that there were covenant blessings for faithful obedience to the Law. Well, there were also covenant curses for departing from the LORD.

And after 700 years of patience and longsuffering with the people of Israel, God determines that He must bring those curses to bear.

He must bring justice. He must bring judgment.

And He says that, for all intents and purposes, this covenant is broken.

“Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

God is just. Application: REPENT OF TRIFLING WITH HIM.

God must be taken seriously.

God will be taken seriously. He is not a laughing matter. God is not a joke.

Israel must have thought so. They must have thought that they were getting away with something by playing the harlot under every green tree.

Jehu thought he was getting away with something. That judgment would not catch up with him.

We often act like God is not a big deal.

But God will not be trifled with.

He is serious. He is weighty. He is indescribably important.

Do you live like that?

Perhaps you are not yet a follower of God by faith in Jesus Christ. You think that you can live like you want and give God the nod every once in a while.

“And God will forgive, that’s what God’s for, right?”

God does offer to forgive sinners, but He forgives sinners who repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Have you been trifling with the Living God?


Maybe you are a Christian whose been playing around with “little sins.”

“It’s no big deal.”

“God’s got bigger fish to fry than this.”

Have you been trifling with the Living God?

Most American Christians have a skewed view of God. They picture Him (when they picture Him at all!) as an old doddering, indulgent, lenient, easy-going grampa type.

But this is the biblical God! A God who gives these kind of names to children to send this kind of a message to His people.

Jezreel. Judgment is coming.
Lo-Ruhamah. Compassion is coming to an end.
Lo-Ammi. You are no longer my people. I am no longer your God.

Repent of trifling with God.

Do you need to hear that?

I do.

I talk about God all the time. But I can easily lose my sense of the weightiness of God and take Him for granted. Act like He’s in my back pocket.

God is in no one’s pocket.

When are you going to get serious about God?

Repent of trifling with Him.

That is one of the major messages of Hosea. And we’re going to come back to it again and again as the holiness and jealousy and justice and judgment of God is announced again and again in the book.

But that’s not the whole story!

God is jealous. And God is just. But even here in the first chapter, God can’t help but give us an astonishing glimpse into the “rest of the story.” An astonishing glimpse into a whole other side of His glorious character.

A glimpse into His amazing grace!


He is jealous. He is just. And He is generous.

He is gracious beyond our understanding! Look at verse 10.

He has just pronounced the worst judgment ever on Israel. And then He doesn’t even draw another breath. V.10

“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one'” (1:10-2:1).

There will be a complete reversal of this judgment some day.

God’s promise to Abraham of “sand on the seashore” descendants will be kept.

In the very place where they were disowned, God will re-own them.

And better, they will be rejoined to Judah and they will have one ruler over them. Guess Who that is!

And they will come out of exile or spring up out of the Land.

And the name “Jezreel” will have the opposite meaning as it does now. It will mean “God scatter-plants seeds that grow” instead of “God scatters into nothing.”

God, in His generous grace, is ultimately going to turn this all around.

Do they deserve it?

Absolutely not.

But God is generous. And where there is no hope, He gives hope.

God is amazingly gracious.

He turns around the fortunes of His people.

And He’s doing that today.

When we deserved Hell, He sent His Son to die to give us Heaven!

Isn’t that amazing?!!

And we are all included in this now by faith in Jesus.

This verse is repeated twice in the New Testament. And both times it is applied–not just to Jews, but to people like you and me–Gentiles.

In Romans 9:26, Paul says that God has called Gentiles. And then he quotes this. He says, “As he says in Hosea: ‘I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,’ and, ‘It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" He’s talking about us.

Peter did to in 1 Peter chapter 2. He’s talking about us and he says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

That’s God! He is so generous.

What should we do about it?


That’s what Hosea told the people that they should do. Chapter 2, verse 1 again.

“Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one'”

In other words, act like it’s real.

Repent, yes. But then look forward to the grace that is coming and live like it is on the way.

Talk to each other like it’s already here.

“Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one'”

Rejoice in the hope of His grace.

God has been so good to us, brothers and sisters! We need to rejoice in it!

The Cross is the greatest thing in all of the universe!

And for all of eternity, we can rejoice in the grace that it has unleashed in our lives.

Rejoice in the hope of His grace.

Tell somebody today how glad you are to be saved.

How glad you are to be a recipient of God’s amazing grace.

We’re going to see in the next few months that God’s jealousy leads Him to win His people back to Himself at great cost to Himself.

His jealousy issues into justice and judgment. He wouldn’t be righteous if it didn’t. And we need to reject all others and repent of trifling with Him.

But His jealousy also spills over into a generosity that says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

“Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one.'”

Rejoice in the hope of His Grace.


Good message! I just began preaching Hosea in my church last Sunday.

Keep preaching the Word!